American Poker Awards: “One of the Most Exciting Nights in Poker History”


On Friday, PocketFives was privileged to be in attendance for the first ever American Poker Awards, held at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles. Two-hundred and fifty of the brightest and most influential minds in the industry, along with a cavalcade of players, descended upon a ballroom for a four-hour event featuring booze, chicken, and flatulence. Oh yeah, there were awards given out too. Kara Scott served as the host.

The first accolade set the stage for the night, with Brandon Shack-Harris accepting his award for Breakout Player in the Year and delivering a speech that included “I have to thank Dan Colman for his leftovers” and “I’m going to try not to fart.” Never a dull moment.

Awards were given out in groups of four in between meal courses and in case you missed the parade of Tweets, here’s who won, courtesy of PokerListings:

Lifetime Achievement Award: WPT founder Steve Lipscomb
Best Ambassador: Daniel Negreanu
GPI Player of the Year: Dan Colman
GPI Female Player of the Year: Vanessa Selbst
Industry Person of the Year: Adam Pliska, WPT President
Tournament Performance of the Year: Mark Newhouse, WSOP Main Event
Breakout Player of the Year: Brandon Shack-Harris
Event of the Year (buy-in over $2,000): WSOP Main Event
Event of the Year (buy-in under $2,000): WSOP Monster Stack
Innovation of the Year: Twitch
Charitable Initiative of the Year: All In for Kids
Media Content of the Year: Brad Willis, “Stages / Never Stop Fighting”
Media Person of the Year: Chris Grove, Online Poker Report

Chris Grove was at our table and passed around the award after he won. Yes, it was heavy, in case you’re wondering, and for Grove, was well-deserved. Steve Lipscomb brought up an entourage that included Mike Sexton, Linda Johnson, Adam Pliska, and Vince Van Patten to accept his award, while Brad Willis’ Media Content of the Year win seemed unexpected, as it went up against Jason Somerville’s “Run it Up” series. Willis was not in attendance.

Innovation of the Year going to Twitch’s adoption of poker seemed like a no-brainer and Daniel Negreanu winning Best Ambassador cost this author $10. A slew of poker players were in attendance, including Negreanu, Chris Moorman, Mark Newhouse, Sam Trickett, Bertrand Grospellier, Tiffany Michelle, Maria Ho, Jason Mercier, Dan Smith, Mohsin Charania, Somerville, Martin Jacobson, and Tony Dunst, the latter of whom told us that he has been diving head-long into daily fantasy sports on sites like DraftKings as of late.

Nolan Dalla, who moderated a panel at the day’s industry conference, called the awards “one of the most exciting nights in poker history,” while Mike Sexton, whom we chatted it up with on several occasions, said, “Congrats to all winners and losers at the American Poker Awards and thanks to Alex Dreyfus for making it happen.”

Alex Dreyfus (pictured), a co-founder of Winamax and the head of the Global Poker Index, organized the awards, which we’re certain will be renewed for next year. Dreyfus’ peers resoundingly praised him throughout the awards and conference for his vision, passion, and devotion to poker.

We appreciate being an integral part of the awards. PocketFives co-founder Adam Small was a member of the eight-man jury that selected the winners, while Editor-in-Chief Dan Cypra was a member of the nominating panel.

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